The Last to Know
MELISSA HILL is the genius of whiplash: never read one of her books unless well braced, because you're just getting used to a character and bang, you're facing the other way with your ears ringing.
Here, she sets us off at a nice rocking-horse pace in a story about a couple of couples that don't seem to be getting on so well. Oh, don't believe a word of it.
London Irish writer Sam has made a success of expressing the feminine zeitgeist; we first meet her answering her fan mail as her irritated partner, Derek, pleads for her to leave off and marry him, forget this writing nonsense.
Anna and Ronan have been engaged for aeons, but somehow never set a date.
And Sam's sister, Eve, is coping with a wine importer husband who's always travelling, never home, and doesn't do his share of the childrearing and housework.
So far, so ho-hum. Then you discover that you're reading a novel within a novel - all these stories are in a manuscript being copytasted in Australia by Brooke Reynolds, acquisitions editor of an Aussie publisher. Hmm.
Read on and you'll realise that Brooke's connection with the fiction she's reading is uncomfortably close, as revelation follows shock revelation.
The writing is a little sprawling - tightening up would do no harm - but for chick lit fans, this is a gulp-in-one-go pageturner. Another hit for Hill.
(xxx and a half stars)